Esquire Theatre

936 Market Street,
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Blumenfeld Theater Circuit, Universal Chain Theatrical Enterprises Inc.

Previous Names: Market Street Theatre, Alhambra Theatre, Frolic Theatre, Cameo Theatre, Marion Davies Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Esquire Theatre exterior with the nearby Telenews Theatre

Opened in 1909 as one of the first large size theatres on Market Street. First known as the Market Street Theatre, it was soon to be known as the Alhambra Theatre (1917), the Frolic Theatre (1919). In 1923 it was taken over by the Universal Pictures chain and was enlarged, to reopen as the Cameo Theatre.the Cameo Theatre. In 1929 it was renamed the Marion Davies Theatre. It became the Esquire Theatre from December 5, 1940 when it came under the management of Blumenfeld Theatres. During the war years it was a popular first run outlet for Universal’s Abbott & Costello comedies, Maria Montez Technicolored ‘Exotica’, and the ever popular Universal horror films which became its backbone.

By the 1960’s, the racier American-International product took over, and things got pretty seedy. It ended its life on July 30, 1972 with Barbara Hershey in “Boxcar Bertha” & Alexandra Hay in “1,000 Convicts and a Woman”. It was torn down, together with its near neighbors Pix Theatre & Telenews Theatre, to make way for a Citizens Savings Bank.

Contributed by Tillmany

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

fmbeall on May 4, 2008 at 9:14 pm

To Ken mc. Your photos from 2005 were of the entrance to the Crystal Market. It was never a theatre. Beyond the signage was a large indoor market which was the delight of downtown food shoppers. It had a large glass ceiling and went all the way back to Mission St. and beyond the buildings over to 8th St. It was torn down to build a huge hotel complex (Del Webb’s Townhouse) which is now being slated for demolition to build new housing.

kencmcintyre on May 4, 2008 at 10:13 pm

OK, thanks for clarifying.

philbertgray on July 8, 2008 at 3:19 pm

In Answer to this comment:

Here is a little more info about The Crystal Market on Market street. It was built as a “super” market sometime in the 1920s and was one of the first and largest supermarkets established . Built on a former circus grounds, the store building was 68,000 square feet, with parking for 4,350 cars.

kencmcintyre on November 20, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Here is a 1942 photo from the new Life collection on Google:

kencmcintyre on November 21, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Here is another 1942 photo from Life showing the Esquire and the neighboring Telenews theaters:

William on November 21, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Don’t forget the Warfield Theatre just on the next block on the left side of the picture.

And Win with Warren billboard too.

kencmcintyre on November 21, 2008 at 5:02 pm

I think Earl Warren was running for governor at that time.

rivest266 on August 1, 2018 at 4:15 pm

This reopened as the Esquire on December 5th, 1940. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

arto on July 17, 2020 at 6:42 pm

Demolished in 1972, but not for BART construction. Posting Chronicle clipping in photo section.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 4, 2023 at 2:06 am

The July 7, 1923 issue of Moving Picture World had this news about the Cameo Theatre:

“The rebuilding and enlarging of the old Frolic Theatre on Market street, San Francisco, will be commenced at an early date and plans have been made for reopening the house on August 15. It will be known as the Cameo Theatre in its new form and will be virtually a new house.”
An item in the August 18th issue of the same journal suggests that the project might have been behind schedule, saying that “William Clutts, general manager of theatres for Universal, is in San Francisco supervising construction work on the new Cameo Theatre.”

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